A commentary and resource on Law and Sexuality by Professor Chris Ashford and guests
A public meeting will be taking in the English seaside town of Skegness this week (Tuesday 7pm, Gibraltar Point Visitor Centre) with one topic on the agenda: dogging. Or at least that’s what they are calling it. I’m unclear whether the behaviour in question is actually cruising or otherwise, but such is the growing usage of dogging to denote any ‘public sex’, it can be hard to tell precisely what behaviour people are referring to.
This particular upset is interesting because the complaint appears to be not based on what ‘could’ be happening (although there is an element of that), but more on what has happened. Or, so it seems at first.
A worker for the trust is quoted as saying: “People do bump into people doing unsavoury things. It’s not nice when a young child sees any of this stuff.” “If there’s a lady walking there with a couple of dogs, it’s not very nice.” “In some areas it happens at night-time and out of the way and it’s not a problem but this is happening during the daytime.” “There are people around leaving not very nice litter. It is not nice when a young child sees any of this stuff.”
So, how many people? Are we talking about an isolated incident, a pattern of behaviour, or an epidemic of beach bonking the like of which Skegness has never seen before? This is obviously a (quite reasonable) issue the Police have raised as the Trust request the public report incidents (what constitutes this?) so a timelog can be constructed (thus also confirming that the Trust also has no idea how much dogging is going on).
Has a young child seen anything? Or is that conjecture?
Why the use of ‘a lady’ walking her dog(s)? Are men likely to be less shocked? Should we be less concerned by a teen walking a family pet prior to school?
Detail and facts are so often lost in these reports – but are important in determining an appropriate response. The final section is really interesting, as the spokesman/worker seems quite happy for some dogging to take place. The criteria for appropriate dogging seems to be that it takes place at night (when people are unlikely to unexpectantly come upon a scene), and where no litter is left. Two sensible aspects which I think most doggers would endorse.
The issues are therefore: daytime (i.e ‘visible’) dogging/cruising, and litter. I hope the meeting will focus on those issues rather than the approach of the media which in the two reports labels this as action against ‘dogging’, and as a ‘fetish’ (and thus perverse/wrong per se). Let’s see what happens next.